One sunny day at Lord’s, two young Indian batsmen heralded their entry into the Test arena. Rahul Dravid started his sojourn as a Test batsman alongside Sourav Ganguly. Dravid got out on 95 while the Bengal Tiger went on to steal the show with a marvelous century. This was just the beginning. 16 years down the line, the script remains unchanged…
When Dravid reached the 10,000 run landmark in March 2008, a feat which has put him sixth in the list of batsmen in the history of Test cricket, it was Sehwag who earned all the adulation for his record breaking triple hundred, leaving ‘The Wall’ being credited only for his supportive innings.
Though he has remained the unsung hero of Indian cricket, life has come full circle for Rahul in the sixteen long years that he has served the game. While Ganguly did not live up to the potential purely as a Test batsman, Rahul slowly but gradually carved his niche as one of the best Test batsmen the purists had seen.
He gave rock solid stability to the Indian middle order, standing amidst the ruins on foreign soils on numerous occasions. With his sound techniques and tremendous temperament, he made the crucial number three position his own.
Rahul Dravid is arguably the best Indian batsman to bat at number three. It is a position which batsmen like Don Bradman occupied in the past. His average of over 52.31 in Tests is an achievement in itself.
It is said that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Rahul Dravid, with all his grit, has always proven the proverb. We have innumerable instances to recall and prove how dedicated the gentleman has been to his game. When the other batsmen of the team fell apart like nine pins, tamely surrendering before the fiery fast bowlers on green-tops, it was Dravid who held fort.
Although critics questioned his ability in One-day cricket time and again, there was never an occasion when one dared to doubt his capability in Test cricket. It is an irony that he started his career with ODIs, but excelled in the longer format of the game.
It was Dravid who played an instrumental role in India’s improved overseas records under former captain Sourav Ganguly. He even got his first ton overseas in trying conditions of Johannesburg against one of the best bowling attacks of the world that consisted of Alan Donald and Shaun Pollock.
Since then he has never looked back. He has scored tons of runs in every country he has treaded. Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, England; you name it, he has done it.
Unlike most Indian batsmen, he has always excelled in difficult conditions against top class bowling even on fast paced turfs. His away records speak volume of his class.
Out of the 13288 runs that he has scored, 7690 have come while playing outside India with a whopping average of 53. He has hit 21 tons on foreign soils out of his total of 36.
Fate always played tricks with him and the introvert never got his due. His marathon innings of 180 against Australia in Kolkata in 2001 was overshadowed by Laxman’s epic 281.
Although Dravid contributed 128 runs in a record 410-run partnership for the first wicket in Lahore, it was Sehwag’s blistering 254 that drew all the attention.
In the second Test of the West Indies tour in 2006, Dravid’s fine knock of 146 was overshadowed by Sehwag’s 180.
When he hit a ton against Bangladesh in Mirpur, Dhaka in 2007, three other Indian batsmen-Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik, Tendulkar- scored centuries and took the glare of publicity.
Back in the 2003-04 home series against West Indies, he scored an unbeaten century in Mumbai, but it was Sehwag again who took the glory by hitting a 147.
Adding on, in the 2001-02 West Indies tour, he batted superbly for his 144 in Guyana, but Carl Hooper outscored him with a majestic 233.
Destiny has hardly allowed him to steal the show on the cricket field. From the very first Test he has remained an unsung hero. The story remained the same after 16 years at the top. Despite being the second highest run-getter in Tests, Dravid remained in the shadow of his contemporaries like Sachin Tendulkar, Brain Lara and Ricky Ponting throughout his entire career. Probably, destiny never wanted him in the limelight…